Today I’m helping spread the word about Sarah Von Bargen’s Post College Survival Kit — something I definitely could’ve used a few years ago! You don’t have to wait ’til your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, or better relationships + friendships.
I’m 25 now, which I guess is technically only a hop and a skip away from 22, when I graduated college, but for anyone in the same boat, I think we can agree that college and life thereafter can nearly be equated to two separate worlds entirely. A month after graduation, I jetted off to teach English in Japan, where I stayed for over two years. As if post-grad life wasn’t awkward and confusing enough, I had the pleasure of doing it in a foreign country. Awkward points x 20, y’all.
But since then, I’ve learned a thing or thirty about navigating the open waters of The Real World, and I’m here to tell you that it ain’t so bad. Today, I’ve got three tips for newbie grads (or anyone, really!) that I wish I knew at 22.
1. Can’t find a job you love? Create it.
Like I mentioned, after graduation, I went to Japan to work as an English Teacher. During my time there, I held three different teaching positions, none of which I loved, one of which I really, really didn’t love. Given the language barrier, it was hard to find any other job I could do there. It would be cute to say that I started my blog knowing it would one day pay my rent, but really I just started it for fun and the earning money part came later, unexpectedly. Now I earn money from a variety of sources — my blog, graphic design, selling prints, etc — all of which I created myself. Sound hard? It’s not. It takes a crapload of work and dedication, but if you’d be working somewhere else anyways, why not put that hard work into building something that you actually kinda love? I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s not as impossible as it may seem. Channel your skills and passions into something that can benefit other people and then market the crap out of them to the 9 zillion people who use the internet. You’ve already got the power and know-how, promise.
2. People can suck. You don’t have to.
Perhaps the most surprising discovery I made after college was that not everyone was going to be my BFF. In college, I had a big group of friends; it was easy to find people I clicked with. After graduation, things started to feel more complicated: from an alcoholic neighbor who left a knife in my mailbox to co-workers who only ever brought me down, I felt a little lost in the friendship department. At a particular low, just a few months after graduation, I reached out to a friend for advice. One thing he said to me, (in all caps, because he’s an all caps kind of guy), was to “BE THE POSITIVE.” The Real World can be great once you’ve found Your Happy Place, but until then, radiate what you want to get back from the people you meet. You may not change your grumpy boss, but at least you’ll go home feeling full instead of sad and jaded.
3. The best opportunities can often be found alone.
After graduating college, it can be easy to want to grab on to the nearest person and cling for dear life. “The ship is sinking, find someone to keep you afloat!” Instead, I’ve discovered more opportunities just by being alone — not necessarily in the relationship sense, but in every sense. It might be a little scary at first, but don’t underestimate what you might find or who you might meet, just by spending some time with yourself. Go places alone, do things along, and get comfortable with that person in the mirror — they may turn out to be your new best bud.
What would you tell your younger self?
photo via leanne surfleet